Ahead of a decision by London’s Ealing Council on whether to delete the role of its Conservation Officer, Civic Voice has written to say that deleting the conservation officer role would demonstrate the Council’s lack of commitment to historic environment.
Civic Voice writes:
Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice said: ‘We will be calling on Historic England to declare all of Ealing’s conservation areas at risk if the Conservation Officer post is deleted. Ealing’s historic environment needs to be well managed and having a Conservation Officer is part of the role. Deleting the role is simply the wrong decision as all the research shows how important the historic environment is in contributing effectively to economic growth. Having a Conservation Officer in post will help foster a vision for an area and demonstrates a local authority’s commitment to the historic environment. The Local Authority must take its statutory duties seriously and make appropriate staffing provision to enable it to meet these duties, especially for its 29 conservation areas.’
The proposal to delete the Conservation Officer post was put forward by Ealing Council at a council meeting on Tuesday 10 July and is being debated at a Scrutiny Committee on 2nd August 2018 following a call-in by the Opposition parties.
Robert Gurd, Chairman of Ealing Civic Society, said that it was very disappointing that the Council sets so little store by its heritage and that the Society’s fight to overturn the decision would continue.
He said, ‘Ealing should cherish its heritage, not regard it as a hindrance which gets in the way of building new homes. Instead, any regeneration should be heritage led, building on the best of what is there already rather than sweeping away existing buildings or structures which could be refurbished or re-purposed for modern uses.’
Harvey added: ‘With a 36% reduction in conservation officers in local government since 2008, the civic movement really is the last line of defence to champion the importance of the 10,000 conservation areas across England. Fifty years after the Civic Amenities Act came into fruition, we really need to start learning the lessons from the past. We call on communities all over England to make sure they get involved in our Big Conservation Conversation campaign so we can collectively continue to make the case for the importance of conservation areas.’
Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. We lead and support civic societies as a national movement for quality of place, with people actively improving their towns, cities and villages and promote civic pride. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. We believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at http://www.civicvoice.org.uk including how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.